Feminism

Teach Teens About Consent

I’m seventeen years old, and three of my closest friends have been sexually assaulted, I’ve heard stories of dozens of other girls in my year who have also been sexually assaulted and I do not know a single girl my age who hasn’t been sexually harassed. These things seem to be so normalised growing up as a teenage girl, with rumours circulating about the girl who was drunkenly pressured into giving someone a blowjob, or even laughing about the time that someone shouted ‘big tits’ at you in the street. So normalised that we overlook how deeply flawed a society that accepts these things to be almost a ‘rite of passage’ really is.

When discussing this with friends, we realised that the root cause of this was actually pretty complex, consisting of a brilliant mix of toxic masculinity, the differences in how boys and girls are raised, and most importantly the severe lack of sufficient sex and relationships education. Whilst sex education in the UK is compulsory for everybody over the age of eleven, it’s content is severely lacking. Obviously I cannot speak for every school, but my experience, and the experiences of my friends from different schools, with sex education was incredibly basic, only consisting of a “here’s how to not get pregnant or contract an STI” lecture with absolutely no mention of healthy relationships, same-sex sex and relationships or consent. Of course what I was taught was important and practical, but it barely scraped the surface of the essential issues that teenagers need to be learning about.

In the UK approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped every year.  I believe that educating teenagers effectively on consent and healthy relationships could significantly reduce these statistics, especially by addressing the hundreds of misconceptions surrounding rape and sexual assault. A third of people believe women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped (Amnesty, 2005), a horrific misconception, yet an understandable one when you consider that rape education is not taught nation wide. This type of miseducation can spiral and spread so easily, and results in rapists walking free everyday, with just 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator.

Education is vital and could prevent rapists from walking free, the ‘blurred lines’ when it comes to consent and rape and sexual assualt from taking place. Governments globally need to act to improve their sex education in order to save thousands of people from nationwide trauma and abuse. The implementation of consent classes in Kenya reduced the number of rapes by 51%. The proof is there, now we need to do something about it.

22 Comments

  • thisdreamsalive

    I’m 22 and my sex ed was the most unhelpful thing ever, I never heard the word consent until college, so I’m sad to see your age group was left down too. Hopefully posts like this inspire people to educate themselves on consent, maybe then will there come a time where almost ever single women doesn’t have a #metoo

    Ash | thisdreamsalive.wordpress.com

    • chitchatblog

      Everyone I know has said the same as you and it’s so upsetting to hear. I hope that you’re right, and that #metoo will one day no longer be necessary.

  • Loren

    Education is vital to have a good society. Thankfully, in high school nothing of that like happened to me or my friends but I know that it wasn’t like that in other schools.
    Sex ed should be taught with better content that cover everything.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Loren | plaidandsugar.blogspot.com

  • beereaderbooks

    As a mum of two boys (aged 8&11) we’ve already had chats about consent both on a broad and a sexual basis, it’s so important they realise that there are signs to be aware of, red flags and importantly, a way of expressly knowing something is being enjoyed by both parties, whatever the situation. It’s important these conversations aren’t ignored or left too late

    • chitchatblog

      Yes exactly! It’s so great to see parents openly discussing a topic that so my people shy away from despite how important it is. Thank you for reading xz

      • Amanda | Pinwheels and Piggybanks

        I had sex Ed over 20 years ago and I’m sorry to hear nothing has changed. Now that I am raising two boys, I feel a tremendous responsibility to make sure they understand consent. Our number one house rule is that if someone tells you stop doing something to them, you stop. Immediately. They’re 3 and 5 right now so it’s mostly for tickling or rough housing, but I hope setting the foundation now will ensure they always respect other’s choices and bodies later.

  • elenxmai

    This is so important and I definitely agree with you! When I was in school our sex ed was strictly “this is penetrative sex – the end”. I can’t help but feel like we’re letting kids down by not teaching them about the importance of consent.
    El xx

    • chitchatblog

      Yes mine was exactly same, sex ed definitely needs to be developed. Thank you for reading xx

  • Noel Sierra

    Stumbled upon your blog on Twitter and I think your message is incredibly important and true. I grew up trying to be aware of how I dressed, how I acted around guys, etc. I just realized the last time I went out with my friends that us girls are taught to stick together, while my male friends are able to walk to the restroom or up to the bar alone without fear of being approached/harassed. Boys and girls alike should absolutely be taught about consent early on! No one should have to worry about sexual assault.

  • hauntedhistoryjaunts

    Powerful post! We made sure to educate my son and my daughter in this, how to recognize signs and how to back away when necessary. Also how to help a friend you may see etc. Awareness and education were key in our home I found our schools to be lacking in these areas, so we made sure to keep an open dialogue at home Thank you for sharing!!

    • chitchatblog

      I’m so glad to see so many parents teaching their kids about issues that might seem a bit awkward at first but are so important! xx

  • Jaya Avendel

    Teaching children in general about consent is something most schools never cover. It is something that needs to start being done more at home. Education is vital to decreasing the sad numbers of woman who are hurt.

  • Naomi (Inching Forwards)

    This is such an important topic, and I couldn’t agree more that education is the key to tackling everything from sexual harassment to rape. As well as teaching teens about consent and sex, I think we could start even younger – you don’t need to talk about sex to teach kids that no one should be touching them if they don’t want it – even a hug. Thank you for trying to start this conversation! <3

    • chitchatblog

      That’s a brilliant point that I hadn’t thought of, but you’re right starting younger would make tackling consent in terms of sex later on a much easier topic to teach. Thank you for reading xx

  • Nyxinked

    We were taught what sex was but nothing about consent. It wasn’t really talked about and even sex was rushed through. It’s so important that teenagers now are spoken to about the concept of consent, what it is and why it’s important. It can help prevent so many horrific sexual encounters in their futures.

    – Very important and insightful post!

    Nyxie

    nyxiesnook.com

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